Kernels tighten up in second half to win first season opener in six years

Mitchell shrugs off slow start to snap nine-game losing skid to Huron.

Mitchell's Dylan Soulek (23) jumps out of bounds to save a loose ball in front of a trio of Huron defenders during a game on Saturday at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

It took a second-half surge, but Mitchell High School won its first boys basketball season opener since 2014.

Entering Saturday’s game at the Corn Palace, Huron had scored three consecutive season-opening wins and had not lost to the Kernels since a district playoff win in 2016. The Tigers hit six 3-pointers in the first half to score an early lead and it appeared they were not ready to surrender the streak.

But Mitchell ratcheted up its defense and created some easy baskets in the halfcourt offense to pull ahead with an 11-3 run. The Kernels continued the pressure in the fourth quarter and a Zane Alm two-handed dunk with 11 seconds to play flushed Huron for good in a 58-49 win.

“You can never apologize for winning,” MHS head coach Todd Neuendorf said. “When you win, you win. All of these teams are good and you can never take a night off. … We won’t apologize for winning, but we will improve some things on Monday.”

Many of Huron’s 3-pointers came off defensive miscues. After Alm dunked in the third quarter to give Mitchell a 35-33 lead in the third quarter, Max Kranzler responded with a wide-open 3.


But a timeout allowed the Kernels to set up a full-court press that kept the Tigers from easily setting up offensive sets and created turnovers to give Mitchell extra possessions. Huron 3 of 9 from beyond the arc in the second half and Alm swatted five shots to take a 42-36 lead into the fourth quarter.

Mitchell's Zane Alm (40) dunks during a game against Huron on Saturday at the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

“We got after the guys in the last 3 minutes of the second quarter and in the second half our defense was much better,” Neuendorf said. “There was a unit that we brought in that brought the juice a little bit.”

As the Kernels began to pick up steam offensively, Caden Hinker found his rhythm. Hinker air-balled a 3-pointer in the first half that he attributed to first-game jitters and began to take his game inside.

With Huron’s top defender, Derick Siemonsma guarding Alm, the 6-foot-6 Hinker had an advantage over a smaller defender. The junior began to find success driving to the rim or finding open teammates when double-teamed. He scored 13 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, while grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out four assists.

“I decided I had to post more and get inside looks,” Hinker said. “Once I got my inside looks, they kind of fed off of me and I could get them looks from the post since I had the smaller guy.”

Alm also recorded a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, while Ben Helleloid added 12 points and five rebounds.


Siemonsma and Brandon Decker had 13 points apiece to lead Huron in a losing effort.

Mitchell returns to action against Sioux Falls Lincoln at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the Corn Palace.

Mitchell 58, Huron 49

Mitchell (1-0): Caden Hinker 7-17 5-8 22, Zane Alm 3-10 6-8 12, Lucas Moller 0-1 3-4 3, Ben Helleloid 5-10 2-3 12, Dylan Soulek 2-3 0-0 5, Aiden Myers 0-0 0-0 0, Jonah Schmidt 1-1 2-4 3, Gavyn Degen 0-2 0-0 0, Charlie McCardle 0-1 0-0 0, Steele Morgan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-44 18-27 58.

Huron (0-1): Derick Siemonsma 4-11 4-7 13, Ryan Janes 0-1 0-0 0, Teegan Pfitzer 1-5 0-0 3, Kler Hae 3-3 0-0 7, Jaren Schley 3-10 0-0 8, Max Kranzler 2-4 0-0 5, Cade McNeil 0-1 0-0 0, Jayden Beck 0-2 0-0 0, Reilyn Zavesky 0-1 0-0 0, Juan Urena 0-0 0-0 0, Brandon Decker 3-6 4-6 13. Totals 26-44 8-14 49.

M 11 26 42 58

H 13 26 36 49


3-point field goals: M: 4-17 (Hinker 3-8, Soule 1-2, Moller 0-1, Helleloid 0-2, Alm 0-3); H: 9-22 (Decker 3-4, Schley 2-7, Hae 1-1, Kranzler 1-1, Pfitzer 1-2, Siemonsma 1-5, McNeil 0-2). Rebounds: M: 35 (Alm 11, Hinker 10), H: 28 (Siemonsma 5). Assists: M: 10 (Hinker 4), H: 6 (Six players with 1). Steals: M: 5 (Degen 2), H: 6 (Janes 3). Blocks: M: 5 (Alm 5), A: 1 (Siemonsma). Turnovers: M 22, H 17. Fouls: M 16, H 24.

Sub-varsity scores: JV: Mitchell 86, Huron 69. Freshmen: Mitchell “A” 51, Huron 21. Mitchell “B” 33, Huron 31.

What To Read Next
Get Local